Cross-curricular workshops at the Foundling Museum

Date Posted: 18/09/2015

Pictured: The Foundling Musuem.

The Foundling Museum, in London explores the history of the Foundling hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and public art gallery and offers a range of cross-curricular workshops for schools to discover more.


The hospital was established in 1739 by philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for babies at risk of abandonment and from 1741, when the first babies were admitted, to 1954, approximately 25,000 children were cared for and educated at the Foundling Hospital.

At the same time the public art gallery was set up by artist William Hogarth and composer George Frideric Handel to encourage artists to donate work and help the hospital support those in need.

School workshops

Today, the Foundling Museum offers several school workshops to give students an insight into what life was like for children living in the Foundling Hospital and the ways in which art supported philanthropy.

The artist-led workshops have cross-curricular links to Art & Design, History and Literacy and can be adapted to cover topics on the curriculum for Key Stages 1 to 4.  

Pictured: Taking part in a school workshop at teh Foundling Museum © Foundling Museum.

The Foundling Hospital and the story of the gift of art

In this workshop, students will discover the story of the Foundling Hospital and the impact and influence the work of Thomas Coram, George Frideric Handel, William Hogarth and other artists had on the children living in the hospital.

The paintings, sculptures, furniture and ceramics donated by the artists are displayed alongside artefacts which reveal the lives of the hospital’s children and the mothers who gave them up.

The session explores the basis of historical enquiry by encouraging students to understand and look at the physical resources, form an interpretation and recognise how this can be used to understand historical claims.

Students will then take part in critical discussions and make presentations to the rest of their group based on what they have learnt.

Foundlings at war

Students will learn about the effect war had on the Foundling Hospital from the 18th to 20th century and discover the links it had with the military, which saw boys go directly from the institution into the armed forces.

The workshop will tell the stories of boys who served in the war and from 6th October until January 2016, the exhibition Foundlings at War: Through the Ages will show archival documents, photographs and medals from those who served in conflicts including the Boer War, the Crimean War and the two World Wars.  

Victorian lantern making / Victorian stereoscopes

These two Art-focused workshops explore Victorian London. Victorian Stereoscopes lets students create images inspired by the story of the Foundling Hospital and then make a stereoscope viewing box to see them in 3D.

In the Victorian Lantern Making session, pupils will once again transform what they have learnt about the Foundling Hospital into artwork by creating a Victorian lantern to tell the narrative of the children who lived there.

The workshops allow students to use different materials and techniques in their art to tie in with the National Curriculum requirements for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 Art and Design.

Victorian Life and the Fallen Woman

This workshop focuses on the stories of the women who left their children at the Foundling Hospital and the myth and reality of the ‘fallen’ woman in Victorian Britain. Students will take part in critical discussions on the subject and see how the ‘fallen’ woman was portrayed in art, literature and the media at the time.

For more information contact Elizabeth Lee on 020-7841 3595, e-mail or visit

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